Why is ExpressVPN no longer recommended for use in China

Joao Guimares

ExpressVPN is often rated as the top VPN by numerous review websites. However, we no longer recommend it for our friends in China. The reason is quite straightforward. Traditional VPNs are no longer suitable for the circumventing the Great Firewall of China. This not only applies to ExpressVPN but also to other well-known overseas VPN brands such as VyprVPN, NordVPN and PureVPN. These brands are good outside China, but no longer recommended for the specific needs of users in China.

Well-known overseas VPN brands like ExpressVPN are not well-adapted to the local environment. Even if they claim to have developed VPN protocols specifically for bypassing the Great Firewall, their effectiveness is often disappointing. ExpressVPN may be suitable for users outside of China, primarily for hiding IP addresses and bypassing regional restrictions.

ExpressVPN’s high ranking on VPN review websites is mainly due to effective marketing and high promotion budgets rather than superior speed or stability. If you’ve used ExpressVPN in China, you likely know the actual experience. When evaluating VPNs, user reviews in Google Play and the App Store hold more value and reflect real user experiences. Therefore, it’s advisable to check store reviews before purchasing any VPN.

We highly recommend use SimpleLink, an EU company running proxy servers services in China using IEPL and IPLC private lines with Trojan protocol since 2019. For more details about SimpleLink, please check here.

Specific Reasons for Not Recommending ExpressVPN

1. Expensive

ExpressVPN’s pricing can be over $100 per year, which is significantly more expensive than other ways of circumvention like Proxy Server, private VPS, or other VPN apps. Moreover, it provides only 4 to 5 VPN nodes in China with suboptimal connections. For the same cost, users can opt for top-tier Proxy Server services with optimized routes. Considering the available alternatives, ExpressVPN’s price is extremely expensive for the services it offers.

While ExpressVPN is among the better options compared to other foreign VPN brands for connecting within China, it remains inferior to top Chinese domestic Proxy Server services provider. Some free VPNs can provide equivalent server for the Firewall circumvention purpose. So, why pay $100 for ExpressVPN?

2. Circumvention Effect

As mentioned earlier, ExpressVPN does not effectively address the current domestic network environment. The VPN protocol it uses is not dedicated to the Great Firewall circumvention. Despite having its developed VPN protocol, the circumvention effect is still unsatisfactory. Additionally, ExpressVPN lacks optimized routes for mainland China networks, further diminishing its circumvention capabilities. Although it claims to have more than 160 VPN nodes globally, only 4 to 5 of them are accessible in China, and their speeds may not be as fast as some free VPNs.

In contrast, the Proxy Servers (popularly called the “airports”) offers Shadowsocks, V2ray, and Trojan protocol nodes, which are developed specifically for circumventing the Great Firewall. Professional circumvention services like the airport provide are of much superior performance compared to ExpressVPN.

3. Privacy Protection

ExpressVPN places a strong emphasis on privacy and security. However, after being acquired by Kape Technologies, concerns have arisen regarding its privacy and security. Kape Technologies also owns VPNMentor, a well-known VPN review website, which raises questions about its neutrality.

Many ExpressVPN users in China have chosen to refund their subscriptions and switch to other VPNs following the acquisition. Furthermore, with the widespread adoption of HTTPS, VPNs are no longer as critical for improving network security, and the security benefits of VPNs have been somewhat exaggerated.

4. Not supporting Chinese websites and apps

VPNs like ExpressVPN lack specific routing mode for Chinese domestic websites and apps. Once user get connected to ExpressVPN server, they have to do all Chinese site and app through the VPN server. This means that keeping the VPN enabled can lead to slow or even inaccessible access to some domestic websites. Prolonged use of a VPN for accessing domestic sites or services like WeChat may also trigger account restrictions, affecting users WeChat account. In contrast, Proxy Servers (airports) do not encounter these issues. Thanks to the routing rules established by a group of developers, they enable users to directly connect to domestic websites without routing through the proxy server when visiting the chinese sites, but only use the VPN/proxy server when visiting the foreign/banned site. THis largely enhance the speed of domestic services and make the switch between Chinese and foregin site seamless.

A Better Choice

When comparing ExpressVPN to the Proxy Server Providers (Airports) that use Shadowsocks, V2ray, Trojan, IEPL, here’s a summary of their differences:

AspectExpressVPNAirport Censorship
Price$10 USD/month (approx. ¥65)¥5~¥40/month
Connection SpeedUp to 50Mbps500Mbps
Available Servers4~5 high-latency serversDozens or hundreds of low-latency servers
Real User ReviewsMostly negative reviews and rave reviewsExtremely fast and easy to use

Whether you’re in mainland China or overseas, ExpressVPN is no longer the best choice. In fact, it’s an unwise one. If you’ve used both ExpressVPN and SS/SSR/V2ray/Trojan circumvention “airport” services, you’ll understand the difference.

For users in mainland China, the best circumvention solution currently is the Proxy Server (so called “Airport”) service. It offers low-latency, high-speed circumvention and eliminates the need to switch VPN applications frequently. Thanks to the “Airport” intelligent routing configuration (rule based mode), it ensures that domestic applications remain unaffected.

When overseas, ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, PureVPN, NordVPN, and other well-known VPNs are still viable options. Users can choose based on their preferences and requirements. However, in China, these VPNs are no longer sufficient to bypass the Great Firewall. It’s time to switch to the airport node.

We hihgly recommend use SimpleLink, an EU company running proxy servers services in China using IEPL and IPLC private lines with Trojan protocol since 2019. For more details about SimpleLink, please check here.

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